When to Exercise

No one will disagree that exercise is an excellent way to stay physically fit and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. You will feel better, have more energy and your whole outlook on life will be in stark contrast to someone who is neglecting their physical fitness. In summation, exercise is a “no lose” situation that should be a part of your daily routine.

But when exactly is the best time to exercise? I have been asking myself this question lately, like anyone else, I want to maximize my results.  So I started asking a few questions and seeking a few answers. 

So when is the best time to work out?  Is it first thing in the morning, before you empty the coffee pot? Or is the best time to exercise right after dinner, so you can work off that extra helping of mashed potatoes that magically ended up on your plate?

If you are a person who exercises regularly, which I highly reccommend, you may have already found a program that’s just right for you. But on the other hand, if you find your exercise time varies from day to day, and it’s wearing you down instead of picking you up, then you need to learn how to listen to what your body is telling you to determine the best time of the day to schedule your exercise routine.

Here’s an example, you might be a person who gets up before the sun rises, and you are perfectly comfortable doing your work out at that time of day.  If it works for you, and you feel you are getting the most benefit from exercising at that hour, then keep at it.

But say you have to force yourself to get up early to fit in an hours-worth of P90X, just because of your work schedule. Maybe you’re not having fun with the program you are on currently, and it’s making you miserable. This is definitely a situation where change is necessary.

The best time of the day to exercise lies in your circadian rhythms (your what???), the daily cycles that our bodies follow. These rhythms regulate everything from body temperature and metabolism, to blood pressure. Scientists and physicians have been studying body rhythms to help people determine the best time of the day they are the most productive, the most creative, and will reap the greatest benefits of exercise.

Our bodies were created to operate within a twenty-four hour, light-to-dark cycle, and each of us can determine when we are able to work at a particular task at peak performance. Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m not a morning person”?  That person should not try and squeeze in an exercise routine early in the morning.

Scientists have determined that it is the influence of circadian rhythms on body temperature that seems to yield the most control over the quality of a workout. When your body temperature is at its highest, your workouts will probably be more productive. When your body temperature is lower, chances are your exercise session will be less than ideal. Your body temperature is usually at its lowest point anywhere between one to three hours before you wake up in the morning.

However, by late in the afternoon your body temperature reaches its peak. Medical studies have shown that people who exercise during the time of the day when their body temperature is at its highest, produce better performance and more power. Muscles are warm and more flexible, your reaction time is quicker, and you are at your peak strength and less prone to injury.  AND you maximize your results!

Try this little experiment to determine your own circadian peak in body temperature. Record your temperature every couple of hours for 5 consecutive days. You will discover that your body temperature usually fluctuates about 1.5 degrees (if your immune system isn’t being attacked of course). You should try to exercise anytime during the period three hours before and after your highest temperature.

Now your schedule may not allow you to always exercise at the most optimum time of the day for you, but don’t forget, a healthy exercise program is a sure way to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

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